If dealerships don't approach pre-owned car buyers with the same enthusiasm they show their new-car buyers, they're losing money. That's especially important now that stores are seeing a major influx of off-lease and other pre-owned cars.
"We spend every bit as much time with our used-car customers as we do our new-car customers," said Tyler Corder, CFO of Findlay Automotive Group, which has 28 stores in five states and is headquartered in Henderson, Nev. "The key is getting the finance manager involved early, when the customer is in the showroom. We do a needs assessment, and find out about their driving habits. We also ask specifics about their last cars, including how long they keep cars. Then we can suggest service contracts that work for their driving habits and budgets."
The finance managers often accompany prospective buyers on test drives, deepening their understanding of the buyers' needs and giving them a chance for casual chat.
"The most important thing is not to be phony," Corder said. "People put up defenses if they think a salesperson is giving a pitch or using a canned script. You have to be your own personality and be likable, friendly, have a professional appearance. It's a real science."
Special Correspondent Nancy Dunham asked other F&I professionals how they approach their pre-owned customers. Here's what they said.